*I truly can’t say enough how so very sorry I am to the families of those lost in yesterday’s tragedy – so many thoughts, prayers and condolences to all of you
* * * * *
Well ladies and gents, we’re about a week and a half away til’ Santa squeezes those rosy buns down the chimney. And I’ve been thinking recently about how much I love this time of year – I really do just love it, maybe a little more every year. But there are some items that seem just a little more special during the holidays – here’s my list:
I don’t even want to know how much butter I’ve used in the last few weeks – but if I added it up, I’m sure I could have a small sized toddler made entirely of butter. Holiday recipes aren’t meant to be ‘butterless’ so hell, add an extra tablespoon or two – you’ll be back to the gym with the rest of the world on January 2nd, sweating yellow butter sweat.
For breakfast – for lunch – for an afternoon snack and then dessert (if not for dinner too) What is it about Christmas that makes people cookie crazy? They make amazing gifts and even better desserts so go ahead, try that new cookie recipe you’ve been eyeing all year – if there was any time to do it, now is it!
December = parties: work parties – family parties – parties for one – christmas eve – christmas day – new years eve – champagne – wine – ‘special punch’ – one tequila – two tequila – three tequila – FLOOR.
Drink up kids – your liver will also be back to the gym on January 2nd with a nice tall H2O on the rocks – so go ahead, get the family size Advil and finish that bottle of pinot! You know you wanna…come on now…
FAMILY AND FRIENDS
It could be your mom, a cousin, a BFFAOT (Apart Or Together – I saw you scratching your head) or your next door neighbor. The holidays are meant for spending time with the ones you care about the most in life and it doesn’t mean that if you don’t have a huge family with first, second and third cousins coming out of the woodwork that you can’t have just as great a time celebrating with a new friend, a co-worker, or heck even Fido the dog!
THINGS THAT SPARKLE
Shamefully bedazzled things of all shapes and sizes: wrapping paper – sparkly tops and dresses – a Clark Griswold portion of christmas lights. A line from an old favorite song of mine says “All that shimmers in this world is sure to fade away…” and while it’s slightly depressing and has NOTHING to do with Christmas, I feel as though it’s fitting. This is the only time of year where excessive sparkle is not only encouraged, it’s mandatory.
When you’re a kid and you open something like 1) underwear 2) new boots 3) a christmas ornament, after subtly rolling your eyes and looking around for the next box that looks like something more desirable that you can actually use for a whole day and then get sick of, well you don’t realize the importance of things that those ‘old people’ tell you that ‘someday you’ll appreciate’. Nothing could be more true than my Aunt Mary’s ornaments – every Christmas, she and Uncle Charlie would host the family for a Christmas party – Santa came – sounded eerily like our Great Uncle Dave, but of COURSE it was just a coincidence – and we’d get our gift from Santa’s sack, usually something small that was on our list but not Nintendo or Teddy Ruxpin – a more modest gift like a barbie or G.I. Joe.
Aunt Mary was an amazing painter – amazing actually doesn’t even accurately describe it. But she would hand paint – HAND paint – an ornament for every.single.grandchild (got all the way up to 17 + 2 great grand’s!) So holy mother of god – I cannot even imagine how long it took her to get all of these done. But every curve on the face of every snowman she painted was perfect, and we’d all say “Thank you Aunt Mary”, tossing the ornament to our mom’s to hold onto so we could get back to Polly Pocket or whatever ridiculous toy we got. But now, so many years later, they mean probably more to me than any stupid gift I ever got as a kid. And she knew that us dumb kids might not realize how special they were just then, but she knew that someday we would. Damn she was smart 🙂
And well, the list could go on and on and ON and on…but you all get the idea and I’m sure have your own favorites that make the Holidays that time of year that is enjoyed so much so, that it seems it’s over as quickly as it began. So take this next week and a half and savor each and every moment! Each and every favorite! And share some please – I’d love to know what makes the Holidays special for you 🙂
I’ve mentioned my cousin Erin before in my ‘Easier Than Ina’s Pecan Squares‘ post a while back. Well, she’s getting a shout out again. Erin lives in L.A, doing casting for all kinds of fun shows like Hell’s Kitchen, Nanny 911 and even the Biggest Loser (which clearly is a conflict of interest based on her baking talents) and the few times a year that she’s home, I think myself and the rest of my family feel like it’s our celebrity family member coming home from Hollywood to grace us with her presence and fill us in on all the latest goings on in Tinsel Town.
Like any hot L.A. celeb, Erin’s always reinventing herself and her style, rocking the sassiest of outfits and accessories that only someone who lived in L.A could pull off. So in addition to guessing what color nail polish and lipstick she’ll be wearing when she comes home, we also loveeeee being ‘tasting guinea pigs’ to all her latest baked goodies from her side business, BellaBoos Bakery. And she never disappoints in that department either. The dessert table grows exponentially any time Erin’s home for the holidays, and last year, it grew to include these ADORABLE snowmen cake pops, almost too cute to eat, but let’s be honest – nothing is that cute 🙂
Snowman Cake Balls (or pops)
*My Celebrity Baker Cousin Erin
*yields 18 snowmen
1 box cake mix, made according to instructions
(I used chocolate devils food cake mix)
1/2 cup of chocolate frosting (or flavor of your choice)
White melting chocolate
(I used Wilton’s white chocolate melting discs (2 – 12oz bags) – I would HIGHLY recommend using these…you’ll see why later)
Oreo cookies, 2 sizes – the mini sized and regular sized ones
Mini chocolate chips
1) Prepare your cake mix according to the instructions. Once it has baked and cooled, crumble it up into pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.
2) Add frosting to the cake – a lot of recipes for cake balls/pops call for the entire can of frosting, however I think this is far too much. I only used 1/2 cup and it was plenty. The cake itself is already quite moist, so personally, I think too much frosting can make it too mooshy, but start with 1/2 cup and feel free to add more until your cake ball dough reaches your desired consistency.
3) Take a good scoop of the dough (maybe 1/4 cup or so, depending on how large you want your snowmen to be – 1/4 cup will yield about 18 balls/snowmen) and roll it into a ball. Place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Once all your balls have been rolled, place them in the fridge to chill for about an hour (this just ensures that they’ll stay together when you dip them in the chocolate).
4) While your balls are chilling, prep your ‘top hats’ by pulling apart an Oreo cookie, scraping the cream off the sides, and placing the single cookie on wax paper, with a mini oreo on top.
5) Melt your chocolate discs in a double boiler. Once your chocolate has melted, start by taking just a little smidge of it to fuse the mini oreo to the larger one to make your hats. Then, with the remaining chocolate, dip your chilled cake balls in the chocolate with a toothpick or skewer of some sort, letting the excess chocolate drip a bit, then placing them on the wax paper.
6) Take your mini chocolate chips, making 2 eyes, a mouth, and then stick the orange tic tac in the center to make his ‘nose’. For the final touch, put that top hat on Frosty’s head – it’s winter for goodness sakes! Heat escapes through your head! (even if you are a snowman)
I must admit, these snowmen caused some heartache and frustration, and the source of that was brought on by the seemingly difficult task of melting white chocolate. I never have problems with milk or dark, but white….ohhhhh white….pain in my rump.
On my first try, I actually used Ghiradelli White Chocolate Chips. When I melted them in the double boiler, they turned to a big pasty ball of yuckniess, and I tried to remedy this by adding cream, which seemed to do the trick, however, when I went to dip the snowmen, well, let’s just say the finished product looked like a snowman does in March (see below)
So I sent a frustrated email the next morning to none other than celebrity baker cousin Erin, and this is what she said:
She typed the words right out of my mouth.
So to Michaels I went, gave it another go last night and the results were amazing! My sad, melty snowman became the happy, smiling ball of white stuff that I knew he was meant to be 🙂
By the end of the night, I couldn’t help but smile back at Frosty – he just looked so happy….
But then I ate him…and one of his friends…I think getting eaten is a lot less painful than a slow melty death don’t you?